Back when Rivian first showed off what it called the Tank Turn feature, it literally broke the internet and you could see it shown on hundreds of sites, some of which had nothing to do with automobiles. The video demonstration of it in action really impressed people and got them talking, but it apparently won’t be available on the R1T at launch.
MotorTrend got privileged access to the R1T for an exclusive test drive and also learned from the electric pickup’s chief engineer, Charles Sanderson, that the spin-on-the-spot feature wasn’t going to be ready in time for first deliveries. Apparently, it is difficult to get everything working properly in order to perform the Tank Turn – the demonstration in the famous video is ‘a best case scenario,’ according to the source article.
Just as a reminder, Rivian was able to implement this feature because its vehicles feature a quad-motor setup, with an individual motor spinning each wheel, and thus it can have wheels on one side go one direction and the opposite ones in the other direction. The problem apparently arises when the wheels are on different surfaces with different levels of grip.
This can upset the process of turning the vehicle smoothly, even though the its electronic aids can still compensate for that to a degree. However, now they can’t quite do it as well as they should and users will get inconsistent results; this is a major safety concern for Rivian, which is why it’s taking its time perfecting the Tank Turn.
Another issue was encountered when trying to perform the Tank Turn on an incline. This again has unforeseen effects on the vehicle’s ability to perform the maneuver, especially if combined with the aforementioned situation when wheels have different levels of grip. But even once the turn is successfully initiated, Rivian found that in order to maintain the spin, the vehicle needs to spin the wheels very quickly to keep it going, and this results in the vehicle spinning quite quickly – this again might be unsettling for passengers and a possible safety issue.
Rivian doesn’t know when the feature will be ready, but their goal with it is to not just put it in the vehicle as a useless gimmick. They want it to be a useful feature that will keep the vehicle going when doing serious off-roading.